US hoping for more stable relationship with Russia, but ready to retaliate if necessary

Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden Photo credit: Getty Images

The United States hopes for more stable and predictable relations with Russia but if the latter continues to "be aggressive", then Washington will respond, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

"But if Russia is going to continue to take reckless or aggressive actions, we'll respond — not for purposes of conflict, not to escalate, but because we will defend our interests and values," he told Italian daily La Repubblica.

Blinken - who was in Rome for a meeting on international efforts to combat Islamist militia - referred to the SolarWind cyberattacks and the attempt to poison jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Earlier this month U.S. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Geneva that certain critical infrastructure should be "off-limits" to cyberattacks.

China was "the most complicated" when it came to relations Blinken added, but said the United States respected the different relations countries had with China and that it would not ask any of them to choose between the two countries.

"I think we see adversarial aspects to the relationship, competitive aspects of the relationship, and cooperative ones. There's no single word that can define it," he said

He added that, when dealing with China, "we are much more effective if we're working together."

Blinken also said that Italy had made important efforts in drafting legislation aimed at protecting its 5G network from "untrusted vendors" and that it should continue to carry out checks should investments from other countries arrive.

The United States has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using equipment made by Huawei in their next- generation networks, saying the Chinese company could pose a security risk. Huawei has rejected the accusations.

(La Repubblica newspaper's transcript shows correct wording "predictable" (not "profitable"), "take reckless or aggressive actions" (not "attack")